Jonathan H. Poznansky, Attorney at Law

Surviving family can continue to receive loved one's SSD benefits


We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing Social Security disability benefits and how to qualify for them. In order to recover these benefits, which can provide significant financial relief, individuals typically must show that they meet the federal government's definition of "disabled." That definition, though, varies from medical condition to medical condition, which is one why there are often issues with regard to whether one qualifies for these benefits. However, with strong legal advocacy on their side, many applicants are able to succeed on their SSD claims.

Although the hope is that these disabled individuals will live long lives, the sad truth of the matter is that sometimes they pass away on account of their disability. The SSD benefits that they receive may have contributed significantly to the family's well-being, though, which means that the cessation of them upon the recipient's death could be problematic. Fortunately, under certain circumstances the Social Security Administration allows surviving family members to recover their lost loved one's benefits for a period of time.

The qualifications for recovering these benefits is quite simple. A worker can earn up to four "credits" per year, with each credit being based on $1,320 of earned income. The number of credits held by a disabled individual at his or her time of death dictates whether his or her spouse will receive a continuation of benefits. Generally speaking, a disabled individual with 10 years of work experience equivalent to 40 credits would qualify his or her spouse to receive benefits. Those spouses who are caring for children may qualify for a continuation of SSD benefits with as little as 6 credits, or one-and-a-half years' worth of work.

This is, obviously, a simplification of the process, as there are many factors that can contribute to a SSD benefits determination. It is therefore recommended that those who are dealing with this system contact an experienced legal professional for guidance. This will ensure you are informed and can take action to protect your rights in the matter.

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